The 1820 Settlers

This story started for me when a contact from Genesreunited sent me details of a death:

Elizabeth Warner died in 1840 at the Double Drift military post by the Great Fish River in Cape Colony, South Africa and was buried at Fort Brown in the Transkei. The service was conducted by Captain J. C. Cahill of the 18th Regiment who read the Church of England service.

My grandmother’s maiden name was Blacker and I have managed to trace the family back to Samuel Blacker who, according to the family sarcophagus, died in Midsummer Norton in Somerset in 1809, at the age of 91. In 1783, at the age of 68, he married Elizabeth Brookman who was only 27. Samuel was a copy holder for the Duchy of Cornwall and owned the local manor house and land including a coal mine. One is tempted to think of the Dame Edna Everidge question to Debbie Magee, “What attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?” Samuel and Elizabeth had four children, a son Samuel born 1786 and daughters Mary born 1787, Elizabeth born 1784, and finally in 1790, when her father was 75 years old, Sarah Patience.

Elizabeth and Mary married two brothers, Henry and Ebenezer Warner. Samuel left a will when he died in 1809 and I found this on the National Archives web site. His son Samuel, my ancestor, inherited the manor house, as well as a pewter tankard and his father’s liquor barrels. The girls inherited £600 each, which was a sizable sum in those days.

Elizabeth Blacker, her husband Henry Warner and their children Mary, Joseph, Joanna and Caroline emigrated to South Africa in 1820. I found information about the family on the web site Family Trees, History and Stories and I have been given permission to use this as my source.

In 1818, when Britain and Europe were still recovering from the consequences of the Napoleonic Wars, the British Government decided to address the costly problem of defending the eastern frontier of Cape Colony, South Africa. Three years earlier in 1815, the Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset, proposed a new settlement scheme: settlers would be encouraged to immigrate to the region and be placed in a ‘block’, effectively forming a barrier between the advancing black tribes, who were moving down the eastern seaboard, and the established white farmers who had trekked from the areas around Cape Town to as far as the boundary formed by the Great Fish River.

The Government allocated £50,000 to implement the scheme and circulated the news to the British people, who were still suffering from the economic effects of the war. Understandably their response to the scheme was tremendous, with the Colonial Office receiving the names of 90,000 applicants wishing to emigrate

The scheme involved the organisation of selected individuals into parties, under leaders responsible for them, and by November 1818, the Government had accepted the formation of 60 such parties. In spite of the large number of applicants, the numbers were confined to these parties and was made up of approximately 4,000 individuals.

Henry and Elizabeth Warner, together with their 4 children, joined George Smith’s party, who had left London at the end of 1819 onboard the ‘Stentor’. George Smith was a shopkeeper from Manchester, who had served in the army and was wounded at Waterloo. The family sailed from Liverpool on 12th January, reaching Madeira on 6th February and arriving in Table Bay, South Africa on 19th April 1820. In Simon’s Bay the party was transferred to the store ship, the ‘Weymouth’, for the rest of the voyage to Algoa Bay, which they reached in May 1820. They finally arrived at their new home, New Bristol, Albany, in June of that year.

George Smith’s party were located between the Rufane and George Rivers. The area was named ‘George Vale’.

From 1820 to 1847 Henry Warner was a Government store keeper, as well as a farmer. My contact on Genesreunited told me Elizabeth died in 1840. Henry survived her by 18 years, dying at their son Joseph’s home at Transkei, Cape Colony, in 1868.

Joseph Cox Warner was Henry and Elizabeth’s second child, born in Bristol in 1806 and emigrating with his parents to South Africa in 1820, at the age of 12. In 1830 he became a missionary in Kaffirland, for the Wesleyan Missionary Society. He married the following year and in 1834 was appointed to a mission station working with the Tembus tribe, gaining much respect and influence as he became fluent in their language and accustomed in their ways. He was instrumental in making peace with the invading Fecani army and the setting up of a mission station amongst them.

The couple enthusiastically set about their work, even though they endured many hardships and at times, danger. When Joseph rode out to met the Fecani army to try to persuade them to return captive woman and children, his fellow missionary who had taken a gun against his wishes, fired it to frighten the Fecani, who immediately set upon him, stabbing him to death. The unarmed Joseph narrowly escaped with his life. Matters only took a turn for the better when Joseph found a wounded Fecani warrior after a subsequent attack on the mission station. He nursed him back to health and returned him to his chief unharmed.

He continued in his efforts to bring peace between the tribes, as well as protecting their lands from the Dutch settlers, the Boers. In 1846 he was influential in preventing the Tembu tribe from being involved in the Kaffir Wars. However when the governer Henry Smith, under pressure from the Boers, declared all of Tembuland British territory. Joseph was left to appease the natives as they were all effectively punished for their involvement in the war, even the Tembu, whose participation he had prevented.

As the Boers continued their unprovoked attacks and with them accusing him of being a ‘rebel’, Joseph was forced to leave the region,

leaving most of his belongings behind. However, by 1852, with his name cleared, and by now appointed as the Government officer in charge of the Tembu tribes, he began locating them into reservations, maintaining peace between them and the white farmers, encouraging Christianity and ‘industrious habits’. He was considered such an expert in Kaffir laws and customs that he was asked to write a compendium for use by Government officers. By the time he retired from his post in the late 1860’s some natives had their own small farms within the reservation.
In 1871 he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Queenstown. Later the same year he died following a short illness in Balfour, whilst travelling to Cape Town to join the Legislative Council.

Joseph was survived by his wife Matilda and sons, Henry and Ebenezer, who both entered the Civil Service. In the early 1870s they both gave this up to became missionaries, just like their father before them.

The Warner family bible and other documents were donated to the Albany Settler Museum, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.


© Anniern 2007

Descendants look back

Newspaper cutting from the Eastern Cape Herald Reporter, 13 July 1974

Descendants look back

The opening of the 1820 Settler monument in Grahamstown today will be particularly significant to some of Port Elizabeth`s senior citizens – the monument has been erected in memory of their grandparents.

One of the oldest grandchildren of the 1820 settlers still living is Mr. Walter Ernest WARNER, 103, of Sunridge Park, Port Elizabeth, whose life has brought him a wealth of memories.

His grandfather was Joseph WARNER, and his father Ebenezer WARNER. Formerly a Transkei attorney, he used to travel on horseback to visit clients and attend court cases, until he became the second man in the Transkei to own a motorcar. He remembers being locked up in a Butterworth jail with women and children, as protection during a Kaffir War.